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Thursday, April 7, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Yemen military units fighting each other; Mediation by Gulf states rebuffed

CAIRO — Yemen's military, divided between pro- and anti-regime forces, has begun to fight itself.


Military units have turned their guns on each other in an effort to prevent the defection of officers and soldiers from the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The bloodiest battles have been reported in Sanaa, where soldiers of an armored division began attacking the command of its defector general.

On April 5, at least three people were killed in clashes within the First Armored Division, Middle East Newsline reported. Opposition sources said anti-regime elements in the division opened fire on a pro-Saleh rally in Sanaa that took place in front of the office of the highest ranking officer to have defected — Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen Al Ahmer.

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"Thank God and the vigilance of Gen. Al Ahmer, this plot was unmasked," a statement by military officers who joined the opposition said.

The sources said the Saleh regime has sought to divide the First Armored Division by planting provocateurs and paying soldiers to oppose Al Ahmer. They said members of Saleh's Presidential Guard, disguised as tribal envoys, opened fire on the general, who escaped injury.

Dozens of senior officers have defected from the Saleh regime and joined the opposition. The sources said the regime has lost control over most of the countryside to tribes, Shi'ite rebels or Al Qaida.

In some cases, Saleh appointments of governors have gone awry as the officials fled their posts. One defector was identified as Taha Hajer, who resigned as governor of the northern province of Saada and returned to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

The Gulf Cooperation Council has sought to mediate the crisis in Yemen. But most of the opposition has insisted on the ouster of Saleh, blamed for a sharp rise in the killing of protesters in April.

"GCC mediation requires its acceptance by all relevant parties without any exception," GCC secretary-general Abdul Latif Al Zayani said.

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